As a follow up to my post of the other day (here) I am quite keen to share my latest thoughts on failure and how useful it can be on the path to success. I would go so far as to say that failure is an essential part of success! In other words I don’t think we can succeed, fully and deeply until we have had our fair share of fails.
Why do I say this? Well apart from the fact that all the experts in the field agree with me 😉 I am also reaching my own conclusions quite independently based on my own experience, which has, funnily enough included bags of failure if I’m honest about it! I flunked art school, quit jobs, got the sack from other jobs, failed to complete numerous courses, went a few times to classes and never went back…you name it I’ve ‘failed’ at it. I even sucked at door to door sales…but to be honest it was the most horrendous experience of my life so it was good to fail at that! I’ve not even mentioned the numerous relationships that have gone by the by! Now that was much more painful but I still learnt a lot about myself.
Anyway. My point being, that as a result of trying all these things and somehow finding I lacked the requisite know-how/discipline/organization or personality traits (patience, kindness, understanding, humility et al) I am still here! I didn’t die of shame, (even though I felt it for a while) and that’s the main thing! Sometimes we cling so dearly to a thing we believe we must succeed at, (despite it not feeling good in the slightest) that we entirely miss the point of it all.
Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that we don’t apply ourselves to things or ‘work’ at them but there are things in life that just ain’t our thing. If it is our thing but we don’t yet know it, and we just need more expertise or experience, then dropping it for a while, if needs be, will only serve to show us that it is our thing after all.
If something is a good fit, it will always come back to us in one form or another. Even people we love can remain our friends despite not working on an intimate level if we are open to that…
The beautiful thing about failure is that when we get good at it, it is like an art form in its own right. It becomes a process of letting go, like falling off a log. When we need to let go, it is right to let go, but we don’t because we cling to this fear of ‘the fail’ and unwittingly we arrest our own development.
Our process depends on failure!!!
What I’m suggesting is that we allow our natural tendency to fail at things to guide us towards what we will excel at! I’m sure you know the Thomas Edison story as he tried to invent the light bulb? Well that’s all well and good but do we know how to fail with grace and good feeling…and then carry on? Notice how, unlike Edison I am not denying the ‘failure’ thing. For me it has been more useful to accept it for what it is and move on. But interestingly enough both attitudes can benefit us; I’m just giving an alternative version! Whatever you want to call it…it’s important to carry on! Just try approaching something in a new way or take a new attitude, if it’s your thing that is! I guess the light bulb really was his thing!
The Paradox Strikes…
I didn’t get it for ages. The paradoxical revelation came for me when I started acknowledging that I had failed and that I was all right with that. As I came to terms with my lack of ‘follow through’ it ceased to matter so much and as the skies of self-recrimination cleared, I could finally see that alongside the fails were a whole bunch if successes!
Self-awareness, self-knowing and understanding are some of my best assets now. I know what turns me on and what leaves me cold and I choose to flow with the river of bliss and not the trudge of duty…
By learning about myself I can now control my destiny…more so than ever. If I had doggedly stuck with the first ‘job’ that had come along I’d still be washing dishes in a potato bar….I’m glad I got the sack! I’m glad I quit! I’m glad I didn’t go back.
Now I am following a path of my choosing and learning something exciting everyday! Now that’s what I call success!